John Dina’s job description is not “medicine as missions.” However, he sees his work with community development in Mozambique as one way of doing healthcare missions.
Dina has spent over 30 years on the mission field and now serves as a missionary leader in Africa. This summer, his team completed the construction of a well to bring clean water to a school and its surrounding community. The project was one of many water wells Dina has helped install. Such sources of clean water directly affect villagers’ health because they can now avoid water-borne illnesses.
Not only does his team focus on meeting essential needs, but they also use their work to spread the Gospel. On each well the team of missionaries and national believers builds, they inscribe in Portuguese – Mozambique’s official language– “God loves you.” But more than leaving the words on the well, the team has demonstrated that they love the people, too.
“Anytime I show up, or the well team shows up,” Dina said, “we have total access and great rapport because we have provided this. There is much credit that comes when someone does something for them.” While one part of the team works on the well, others evangelize or focus on discipleship.
Another non-conventional form of healthcare Dina’s team uses to show God’s love is hospice buckets. The team delivers buckets containing essential items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, sheets, towels, straws that bend and gloves, to equip the family of someone dying (usually of HIV or AIDS) to take care of their loved ones.
Dina always explains that his team brought the bucket, “because God changed my life and I want them to know His love,” before sharing the Gospel story. He continued, “When you show up and show care for their dying loved ones, you can go back any day of the week and say, ‘Can I care for you? Love is what conquered all.’”
Quoting John 13:35, Dina said, “‘By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.’ How do you show the love of Christ? You want to get to the message, but really, love opens the door to the message.”
Thinking of unique ways to open doors for the Gospel led Aaron and Olivia Bragg* toward medical missions. Olivia was in college studying to be a physical therapist when she felt the Lord leading her to missions. Her husband-to-be was studying accounting.
As their church during college and afterward discipled them, they caught the Revelation 7:9 vision for reaching the nations. All along, “I had this tension in my heart of whether I should go to seminary or continue with [physical therapy] school,” Olivia explained.
She had the desire to “just drop everything for missions and go to Africa or wherever it may be.” But a IMB/NAMB conference she attended emphasized not dropping out of school. “We need business people to reach the business people. We need healthcare workers to reach the healthcare workers,” they heard.
“There is a healthcare strategy for you to enter into these places that other people with only seminary degrees could not get into,” she realized for the first time at the conference. Aaron feels called to use his degree in accounting similarly to gain access to hard-to-reach places through his trade. Although the couple is still waiting for God to give them the specifics about their calling, they’re excited about the opportunities open to them because of their vocations.